To a mage, water carries memories. Wine conveys the fears of those who made it. Rain whispers the darkest secrets of a city. Gatja may only use her gifts in service to the Order; or her magic will rip her mind apart.To a mage, stone carries power. Bones in the earth teach legacy. Lines in the sand dictate who lives and who dies; but Riad can no longer tell friend from enemy. Riad’s family begs the Order for aid, and they send Gatja to assess and solve the problem.If only his family hadn’t murdered hers.
To clarify, because we all know this is going to come up.
I’m having trouble describing the feeling wherein:
- You say something nice about someone you admire (assuming they will never hear or acknowledge you),
- and then they pop out of nowhere and say thank you,
- and you’re so surprised that they
- are present
- and heard you
- and said something back
- that you have the overwhelming urge to run up a tree and hide in its branches until everyone has left and it’s safe to come back down
(without using the word “dork,” because there’s nothing here that merits a pejorative)
My friend said, “I’m sure there’s a German word for it.”
So I tried, unsuccessfully, to translate “the spooked cat climbs a tree in which to blush,” into German, so I stuck with the English.
In conclusion, if you ever hear me mumbling that phrase, “spooked cat climbs the blushing tree,” it means I am starstruck and trying to recover.
The flying castle will be dropping me off in your realm this fall to attend Archon 41! Women and nonbinary authors, please be sure to submit your original (no reprint) stories for Artemis Rising before you head out, as our submission window will close on Sept 30.
Sept 29 – Oct 1, 2017
Gateway Convention Center and DoubleTree Hotel
This convention promises the usual from me — religion, fighting, and the inescapable lure of human darkness — capped off on Sunday with a reading chock-full of all three. Come say hello!
The Cinematic Wonder Woman’s Badass Predecessors
20:00 – 20:50, Illini A (Gateway Center)
A discussion celebrating Ripley, Xena, Buffy, and more. Why do we love women who kick butt?
What a question.
With Claire Ashgrove, Tom Stockman, and Ethan Nahté
11:00 – 11:50, Salon 4 (Gateway Center)
An open and respectful look at real-life alternate or non-mainstream religions.
I’ll be moderating, with Christine Amsden, Ms Joy Ward, and Walt Boyes
Writing Modern-Day Monsters
12:00 – 12:50, Marquette A (Gateway Center)
Discuss what a “modern-day monster” is (or can be), and how to write an effective one.
With Mr Michales Joy, and Guy Anthony De Marco
Recurring Themes in Speculative Science Fiction
16:00 – 16:50, Marquette B (Gateway Center)
Speculative fiction has become more and more popular in recent years. Come participate in a discussion on themes in spec lit and what’s on the horizon.
I’m moderating (the fantasist snuck in! Shh!), with Celine Chatillon, Dr Pamela Gay, and Tom Carpenter
19:00 – 19:50, Illini A (Gateway Center)
How do myths from different cultures compare? What are some recurring themes? What myths seem to be culturally unique?
I’m moderating, with Michael Benjamin, Lloyd Kropp, Walt Boyes, and Kasey Mackenzie
Short-Story Podcasting for Writers, Readers, and Voice Actors
10:00 – 10:50, Salon 6 (Gateway Center)
Escape Artists represent — woop woop! Podcasts are a huge opportunity to publish and listen to short fiction, and engage with the fan community. They can also provide an avenue into audio book narration and voice acting. Join us to discuss the podcasts we love, how to build a recording setup, and the path to publication.
With the ever-brilliant Benjamin C. Kinney of Escape Pod
Making Friends in Fandom
13:00 – 13:50, Illini A (Gateway Center)
It’s hard to make new friends, but it’s easier when you have common interests. Get tips on how to make friends as adults.
With Mrs. Susan Baugh, Cindi Gille-Rowley, Tom Meserole, Steve Lopata
Author Readings with David Benem and Setsu Uzume
14:00 – 14:50, Cahokian (Gateway Center)
Tag-teaming with David Benem
Hallo! I will be at…
Carosella – Mounted Combat Symposium from September 8-10, 2017
Archon 41 – The Midwest’s Premier Science Fiction and Fantasy Event from September 29 – October 1, 2017
After these two events I’m taking a hiatus from public appearances. Worldcon 76 from August 16-20, 2018 is still up in the air.
I’m moving away, and I’d like to talk about The Tavern.
Scene: Adventurer’s tavern. Night. The bar is full, and the old friends, gather at the same table. Again.
Well twas long, long ago, back when the trees were talkin’
T’was only yesterday.
Yes, yes, I’m getting to it, there’s a formula you know.
Where was I?
A long time ago, long ago, so long ago that no one can remember and no tree can remember and no rock can remember, a place so far away beyon’t that –
It was last night across the river. Now tell the fighty bits.
Alright, if you’ll have all the heart taken out if it.
Moving is the most stressful thing a human can experience. It’s loss, change, and the elimination of all points of reference. It can also be incredibly rewarding. I’m moving from Oakland, CA to a red state, and true to form, I’m all set to inject drama into this situation where perhaps there was none.
When I left New York, there were parties, yes, but there was also crying, gnashing of teeth, and “don’t go!” conversations.
When I moved from Seattle to San Francisco, only two friends came over to help me load the U-haul. There was no pomp or circumstance. We chatted and taped boxes as though it were any other Saturday afternoon, and parted with a “see ya.”
The lack of drama surprised me a bit.
I don’t typically keep friends for longer than five years. A friend once told me that your friends aren’t people you share values with; they’re the people you do stuff with. That made me think that friendships end because interests change. Another told me that when we move, we create a self-shaped void in the lives of those we left behind — but our life becomes a giant mass of voids (where do I hang out? Where’s the grocery store, place to watch the sun rise? Dojo? Job? Hospital? Coffee shop? Diner?). We get stressed, while everyone else is fine. The world rolls on without us, and the place we left disappears.
The last time I visited familiar places in New York, it felt like wearing a sweater that was too small. License plates were a different color. People had grown physically and emotionally. Items from my childhood that should have been dear sparked nothing in me. I was so unmoored from the things that were supposed to be meaningful that I felt the foundation of my identity crumble.
Because of those experiences, I anticipate losing people as soon as I meet them. The impermanence of relationships looms large in my brain. This fear became self-fulfilling. I freaked out with my New York friends, and tried to keep everything the same with an obsessive fervor. You can guess how badly that ended.
Since that time, I’ve tried to accept that paths diverge. My interests change, so do others’. People drift apart, so that’s ok.
The problem is that I’ve applied the same obsessive fervor to ACCEPTING THAT PATHS DIVERGE so I pull out the scissors as quickly as I once pulled out needle and thread.
It’s not the drifting or the grasping that’s destructive; it’s the fervor.
Leaving my core group in California will be hard, just like it was hard to leave my core group in New York. These relationships have been special and illuminating — supportive and challenging. They’re all very different people, with different specialties and perspectives I would never have had access to. I felt sad, not that I was going to leave them; but that I was going to lose them.
When I mentioned this to one of them, they responded with an eye-roll.
“I’ve always taken some issue with your idea about paths diverging and not diverging and all that.”
“In what way?”
“In every way. You’ve been asking if we’re about to diverge since the second time we met.”
Even in my writing, the opening paragraph is usually this is the story of how it all went wrong. I’m so scared of the ending that it colors the beginning.
My friend said, “I see us on different adventures, constantly meeting in the tavern between quests, and then setting off on new ones in the morning. You’re my brother forever and I’ve been fucking loving you across the current of you asking me if our paths were diverging for, like, seven years. Calm down.”
Which brings us back to the tavern. It’s got a million names. It’s The Winchester, The Bronze, Ten-Forward, The Hanged Man, Cafe Solstice, Cafe La Boheme. Facebook. Twitter.
“This may be the last time we drink together in this tavern,” Felimir gloomed into his tankard.
“Dude,” said Fergus, “you get like this every time. Drink your fucking mead, we’ll be back in two days. Chill.”
Tomorrow morning we all have to get up and fight dragons, my friend said. I get that we’re all nervous about it, and we all have our own way of coping. Maybe you’re right, and it won’t be the same. That doesn’t mean it’s over. For fuck’s sake, just drink.
Where do you gather with your friends? A living room? A cafe? A chat box, or a number on speed-dial?
Where’s your tavern?
*Excerpt from: The Sorrows, or Deirdre From The Legend Kills Herself In Every Version But That Doesn’t Mean You Always Have To, currently under development through Custom Made Theater’s Undiscovered Works Series.
PseudoPod 537: A World of Bones by Brian Trent went live on April 7.
When you audition to be a narrator for Escape Artists, we ask for a bit of information. Experience, languages, and dialects are all important; but so is knowing which material you’d consider off-limits. Forcing a performance sucks, both for the narrator and for the audience — and we’d never want our narrators to read anything they feel uncomfortable with. Some narrators prefer not to read sex, some graphic violence, some prefer to stay away from particular themes, and some are down for anything.
I generally decline graphic content, but this story gave me a chance to push those boundaries out a bit. Brian wrote a great, evocative tale, and I’m grateful to him and PseudoPod for giving me this chance to grow as a performer. Turns out I’m far more convincing as an ancient creeper than a heroine.
Shocking, I know.
While I am proud of this one, I will not be telling my parents about it. Lame, I know, but it’s a big step for me.
Here is some of my other voice work. I’ll keep updating the Narration page.
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- “The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles”
by Rachael K. Jones
- “Sweet Cetaceans” by Effie Seiberg and Anatoly Belilovsky
- “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Sara Teasdale
- “The Android’s Prehistoric Menagerie” by A. Merc Rustad
- “Spirit Forms of the Sea” by Bogi Takács
- “The Color of Regret” by Carrie Patel
- “The Cruelest Team Will Win” by Mike Allen
- “In Mixcoatl’s Net” by Charlie Allison
- “Fated Ink” by Siobhan Gallegher
- “The Sphinx at Giza” by Lord Dunsany, for PodCastle’s 9th anniversary
- “Hibakusha” by L.P. Lee
- “Needle Mouth” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam